Amina Grace Program off to a Great Start!


December 2021


What an amazing first session it has been for our Amina Grace 1:1 Speech & Language Program! I’d like to introduce you to one of my participants, Jenna, who has made amazing progress towards her goals. When Jenna first came to me, she was reluctant to engage in conversation and would give me one-word answers without making eye contact when she did respond. She was difficult to understand and became frustrated when others asked her to repeat herself.


As Jenna and I got to know one another I learned that she has an amazing visual memory. She loves to play the “memory” game and I used this as a springboard to open a world of communication for her. One session we played “memory” with some very colorful and sparkly fish cards. Each fish had a unique pattern and we used this to help us with our sentence-expansion goal.


We each took a turn flipping over two fish to see if they matched. After flipping over the first fish, we would describe it using a complete sentence, “I found a _____ fish with _____”. We would then flip over the second fish, create another sentence, then determine whether they matched. For example, I would say, “I found a yellow fish with pink fins and glittery polka dots on the tail”. Jenna benefitted greatly from both the visual cues of the sentence prompt written on the white board as well as from the model I gave each time it was my turn.


I paired this repetitive sentence-expansion task with a modeled slow rate of speech and emphasis on the final consonant of each word. Jenna was resistant at first when I asked her to try again if her sentence came out rushed and unintelligible. After the first couple of rounds she realized that it is a lot easier for her to try her best the first time rather than repeat herself a second time.


The first game we played (of which she won, of course!), Jenna required frequent visual and verbal prompts. I had to point to the white board in order for her to use a complete sentence rather than just say, “Blue fish!”. About halfway through our second game something magical happened; Jenna no longer required prompting. On her turn she would flip over a fish and independently produce a beautiful sentence with a slow rate of speech and clear articulation. I was so proud!


It took a lot of patience all around, but in the end we found the key to unlock the door of effective communication for Jenna. Jenna’s mom, Susan, commented, “We are blessed to now have Amina Grace at GiGi’s Tampa. Speech/language is an area that individuals with Down syndrome struggle with and will always need a little extra reinforcement in. It’s imperative to be able to communicate in this world. I am so grateful for Katie Turner who runs the program and is truly a gift to GiGi’s Tampa”.


It’s crazy to me to think that this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to share countless more success stories of how our participants of all ages are reaching their potential and becoming the best they can be. The beautiful thing about the Amina Grace program is that it allows the space for lifelong connection and growth. As an SLP at GiGi’s Playhouse Tampa, I not only serve the participants I work with one-on-one, but I also have the privilege to act as advocate, informant, and encourager for every family who walks through our front door. I have an open-door policy and get to help parents understand IEPs, answer questions about concurrent diagnoses such ad hearing loss and dysphagia, as well as share these success stories and assure them that there is hope for the future. Stay tuned for more success stories from our Amina Grace 1:1 Speech & Language Program!

Jenna loves playing Memory!

Find more information on our Amina Grace 1:1 Speech & Language Program click here.


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